Cranbrook urgently needs temporary GP practice

Owl is amused at the idea that an extra GP practice would increase footfall in the “town”. But you just cannot call a settlement of 2,000 houses with 5 shops a town – maybe “suburb of Exeter” is now more appropriate!

“… Cranbrook temporary GP Practise
The Projects Director presented the report which sought approval for up to £150k of funding from the Enterprise Programme to enable the delivery of a temporary GP practice in Cranbrook town centre. This was an urgent requirement because of the lack of capacity at the current practice. Whilst Access Healthcare had had their contract extended there were significant concerns over the ability to deliver increasing patient numbers. Expanded facilities were therefore urgently required.
Discussions included the following:

 if not supported this would create a massive health inequality
 this was a loan therefore the borrowing would be repaid
 as well as helping the health service, this was a benefit to the residents of Cranbrook as the existing provision was under pressure. …

The current GP practice in the Younghayes Centre was at capacity. The temporary GP practice would enable the continued delivery of primary care services in Cranbrook for a period of 5 years. It would also bring increased footfall to the town centre and act as a catalyst for attracting wider investment.”

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk//documents/g143/Printed%20minutes%2003rd-Apr-2019%2017.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=1

“Stronger Towns Fund” not new money

“Theresa May’s £1.6 billion ’shameless bung’ to MPs in a bid to get them to back her Brexit deal is not new money, it has been revealed.

Much of Government’s ‘Stronger Towns Fund’ Much will be distributed to Leave-voting Labour heartlands to give communities a boost after leaving the EU.

Angry Labour MPs accused the Prime Minister of trying to woo them to back her plans ahead of this week’s failed second vote.

But the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have confirmed it is not new money and will be met from existing departmental budgets. …”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-mays-shameless-16m-brexit-14139714

People now shopping for “needs” not “wants”

… “Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘While real incomes have been rising over the last year, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit appears to be driving a needs-not-wants approach to shopping…. “

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/news/article-6789495/Number-people-visiting-shops-falls-five-year-low-amid-Brexit-jitters.html

“DEPRIVED TOWNS FUND IS INSIGNIFICANT COMPARED WITH STAGGERING CUTS”

You read here that EDDC Conservatives have decided that the only town they will put forward for this (meagre)fund is Axminster. Well, good luck, Axminster!

But when voting day comes remember your councillors have alteady overspent around £3 million on their new HQ and are funding a new road at the airport for another £3 million AND setting up a £20 million property company to invest OUTSIDE East Devon.

“The Stronger Towns Fund, announced by the government yesterday, is a £1.6 billion fund to be spent between now and 2025 on places that are often referred to as ​‘left behind’.

£1.6 billion as a lump sum is not to be sniffed at, even though in government spending terms it’s relatively small beer. Share small beer out over seven years and it’s reduced to a thimble full; around £267 million total per year if spending starts in the financial year 2019/​20 and is distributed evenly until 2025/​26. Share it out further to all the places in the UK that most need government investment, training and jobs and it’s a droplet in the ocean.

If that were the beginning and end of it, then fine. ​‘Government announces small bit of funding for something that needs a bigger bit of funding’ is not much of a story. However, the government is giving with one hand, and taking much more away with the other.

The Revenue Support Grant is given to local authorities by central government and makes up around a third of councils’ budgets. Between 2018/​19 and 2019/​20, the grant is due to be cut by 37% — that’s £1.3 billion in a single year — on top of savage cuts to it that have already taken place.

From 2013/​14 to 2019/​20, even with locally retained business rates and the main government unrestricted grant, local authorities have seen their net incomes decrease by 48%. The year of Stronger Towns Funding that will presumably occur in 2019/​20 (if allocated equally over six years) compensates this loss by less than 1%. Council incomes will still have been cut by 47%. The whole Stronger Towns pot of money would reduce this loss by no more than 5% if provided in one year — which will not be the case. Of course, some regions will receive more than this and others less, but compared to the staggering cuts to local authorities, the new fund pales in comparison.

Aside from this loss of government money, post-Brexit the UK will be losing money provided by the European Union via its structural funds. Between 2014 and 2020, the UK will have received €17.2 billion for regional and social development, which has flowed significantly to many of the same areas that the Stronger Towns Fund will prioritise.

If the UK were to remain in the EU, between 2021 and 2027, €13 billion of EU structural funds would flow to poorer regions; significantly more than the Stronger Towns Fund. Some further settlement is expected from central government to compensate areas for this loss, but the amount is still unclear.

The Stronger Towns Fund has not gone down well in many of the regions, smaller cities and towns at which it will be targeted. And why should it? One cause of the economic malaise many of these places face is austerity. Reversing its effect will take more than this paltry offer. It will take a transformational approach to government investment, focused both on rebalancing the economy and restoring basic public services that are often the lifeblood of communities.

Many, including opposition politicians, have suggested that the Stronger Towns Fund looks like a bribe to persuade Labour MPs in leave-voting constituencies in particular to support the government’s Withdrawal Agreement. If so, the chances are it will have the opposite effect. …”

https://neweconomics.org/2019/03/deprived-towns-fund-is-insignificant-compared-with-staggering-cuts

Only Axminster chosen for cash for ailing High Streets

Bet it won’t only be Cranbrook with its non-High Street (currently only 5 shops for the growing town) that will be miffed but also Seaton, where the Tesco superstore has sucked the life out of its High Street!

“Axminster will be put forward as the East Devon town to try and grab a share of a £675m fund to ‘help failing High Streets’ – ahead of Cranbrook.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet on Wednesday night agreed to submit a bid for Axminster to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

The Future High Street Fund has been set up to help address the significant structural changes that are currently having an impact on towns and high streets throughout the UK. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/councillors-choose-axminster-over-cranbrook-2619176

Largest store in Axminster town centre to close

“Axminster’s biggest town centre shop is to close – with the loss of 19 jobs.

Trinity House department store is expected to cease trading towards the end of the year – probably in September.

Its owners – Goulds of Dorchester – say it is the victim of the nation’s changing shopping habits which have seen many people switch to on-line buying.

In statement they told The Herald: “As a result of an ongoing review the directors of Goulds (Dorchester) Ltd have announced their decision to cease trading at Trinity House.

“It is expected that the store will close at the end of September 2019, but the actual closing date is yet to be confirmed.

“The store was acquired on leasehold terms in November 2015 along with the premises known as TH2, which housed linens and housewares, until its replacement in 2017 by Costa Coffee.

“Despite having made a considerable investment in the business in an effort to make the Axminster store viable, current trading conditions, coupled with the continuing economic pressures on the department store sector, dictate that the business can no longer sustain an unprofitable branch store in Axminster.

“The company realise that this closure will be a major blow to the town. But even with sympathetic support from the local landlords it has been impossible to stem losses. In common with so many other retailers we are suffering the effects of on-line competition and a change in shopping habits.

“We are deeply sorry at having to take this action not least because our colleagues have done their utmost to help make the store successful and our regular customers will feel the disappointment of losing the only department store in town.”

Axminster county and district councillor Ian Hall said the closure would be a blow to the local economy.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/trinity-house-is-a-victim-of-changing-shopping-habits-say-its-owners-1-5916167

“Ministers urged to provide rescue package for ailing high streets”

“The government should consider taxing online sales, deliveries or packaging and cutting property taxes for retailers as part of a package to help revive the UK’s ailing high streets, according to an influential group of MPs.

In a report published on Thursday, the housing communities and local government committee says local authorities need more help, including extra cash, to redevelop town centres. It also suggests an overhaul of planning regulations, including scrapping rules that allow developers to turn offices into flats without special permission.

Clive Betts MP, the chair of the committee, said it was likely that “the heyday of the high street primarily as a retail hub is at an end”. However, he added: “This need not be its death knell. Local authorities must get to grips with the fact that their town centres need to change; they need to innovate, setting out a long-term strategy for renewal, reconfiguring the town centre and finding new ways of using buildings and encouraging new independent retailers.”

Betts said dated planning policies and unfair business rates, which are a tax based on the value of property occupied by a business, were “stacking the odds against businesses with a high street presence and this must end”. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/21/ministers-urged-to-provide-rescue-package-for-ailing-high-streets